Home > Disney, Gemstone Publishing > Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Comics-75 Years of Innovation

Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Comics-75 Years of Innovation

July 31, 2006

Quick Rating: Very Good

A collection of rare Disney comics from across 75 years and around the world!

Writers: Floyd Gottfredson, Ted Osborne, Walt Kelly, Carl Buettner, Hubie Karp, Bill Walsh, Carl Barks, Don Christensen, Romano Scarpa, Dwight Decker, Dick Kinney, Vic Lockman, Eirik Ildahl, Freddy Milton, Daan Jippes, Geoffrey Blum, Renato Canini, Marck Meul, Jim Kenner, Byron Erickson, Bruno Sarda, Gary Leach, Don Rosa, Janet Gilbert, Evert Geradts
Art: Floyd Gottfredson, Earl Duvall, Ted Thwaites, Wilfred Haughton, Al Taliaferro, Walt Kelly, Carl Buettner, Paul Murray, Dick Moores, Paul Murry, Bill Wright, Carl Barks, Gil Turner, Frank McSavage, Romano Scarpa, Giorgio Cavazzano, Al Hubbard, Tony Strobl, Freddy Milton, Daan Jippes, Roberto O. Fukue, Daniel Branca, Andrea Ferraris, William Van Horn, Don Rosa, Vicar, Mau Heymans, Cesar Ferioli
Restoration: Daan Jippes & David Gerstein (“Race to the South Seas”), Rick Keene (“Sauce For the Duck”)
Colors: Rick Keene, Kneon Transitt, Marie Javins, Scott Rockwell, Barry Grossman, Susan Daigle-Leach, Michael Kraiger
Letters: Susie Lee, Jon Babcock, Bill Spicer, Willie Schubert, John Clark, Rick Keene
Archival Editor: David Gerstein
Cover Art: Don Rosa
Publisher: Gemstone Comics

Borrowing a page from Disney’s DVD department, which has been putting out a line of Walt Disney Treasures collector’s editions for a few years now, Gemstone Comics has graced us with this new volume, collecting rare comics and imports, some never before reprinted, from the vast history of Disney Comics. Billed as containing “75 years of innovation” (which is technically true, as it collects stories from 1930 through 2004, a total of 75 years), this is a very nice sampler of some of the various comics Disney has graced us with over the decades.

The collection has too many stories (presented, more or less, in chronological order of publication) to give a full review of each one, so let’s just take an overview of what we get here. First, there are several short stories from the various Disney newspaper strips, including a really nice Sunday storyline about Mickey and the gang trying to conquer a mountain. (To give you an idea of how old this story is, Goofy is still referred to here by his original name, “Dippy Dog”.) We get a smattering of various characters from throughout the Disney library, including a Brer Rabbit story, a Lil’ Bad Wolf story, stories with Grandma Duck, Fethry Duck, José Carioca, Arizona Dipp, Bucky Bug and a great Gremlins strip by the immortal Walt Kelly. Goofy stars in two stories, one co-starring with the little-seen Ellsworth and the other featuring his alter-ego, Super Goof. Pluto faces off with Chip and Dale, the Beagle Boys co-star with Magica DeSpell, we have a Ducktales story with Launchpad McQuack and, of course, a healthy sprinkling of stories featuring the Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck families of characters. It’s a testament to how rare these stories are that I’ve only read one of these (the Beagle Boys/Magica story) before I got this volume.

In addition to a nice mix of characters, we get a nice mix of creators as well. There’s the aforementioned Walt Kelly (best known as the creator of Pogo), and we see the work of Floyd Gottfredson (creator of some of the best Disney newspaper strips), William Van Horn on the Ducktales story and popular creators from overseas such as Romano Scarpa, Daniel Branca and Vicar among others. American legends Carl Barks and Don Rosa each contribute a story to this volume as well. With any collection like this, the stories are expected to vary in quality, but with the exception of the Bucky Bug story (I’m just not a Bucky fan) I didn’t think there was a weak story in the bunch. The Goofy/Ellsworth story (reprinted here for the first time since its original Italian publication in 1965) is particularly funny. Barks’s story features Donald and Gladstone in a race to save their lost Uncle Scrooge, each hoping to secure their place as his favorite. Rosa’s story is unusual in that it has no villains other than Scrooge’s thirst for wealth – the ducks attempt to conquer a mountain he’s purchased looking for rare gems or metals, and it’s his zeal or Donald’s ineptitude that cause all of the mayhem. The artwork is beautiful and the writing is hysterical – just what you expect from Rosa. Mickey’s last story, by Byron Erickson and Cesar Ferioli, features his friends suspecting he’s ready to throw Minnie over for a new girl and plotting to confront him. With the possible exception of the Barks story, the volume doesn’t contain any of the high adventure stories that mark my favorite Disney comics, but fans looking to laugh will be highly satisfied.

Gemstone went to great lengths to imitate the DVD style with this book, from using the same cover design (including a wonderful Don Rosa cover) to commentary by Archival Editor David Gerstein, taking the role filled on the DVDs by Leonard Maltin. In addition to an introduction discussing the history of Disney comics, he also takes time to discuss how some of the cultural stereotypes shown in a few of the stories were viewed at the time. Maltin has done similar things on some of the DVDs and, like there, I found it a little frustrating – not so much that the discussion was held, but that if Gerstein hadn’t addressed the issue himself there would inevitably have been some people who complained about the stories without thinking about their context.

Judging from the number of titles this volume has – Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Comics – 75 Years of Innovation – it gives me the impression that future Walt Disney Treasures collections are in the works. I certainly hope that is the case. This was a good read, but aside from their scarcity the stories collected in this volume don’t really have any connective thread or reason to be presented together. It’s like reading a particularly long, particularly good issue of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. Here’s hoping Gemstone comes back with more volumes collecting great works by different creators, characters, stories with the same themes or other volumes that feel more complete in the stories collected therein. As far as this book goes, though, it’s a satisfying read for any real fan of Disney comics.

Rating: 8/10

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